PBI-Guatemala present at media conference following Constitutional Court ruling allowing genetically modified seeds
On February 5, PBI-Guatemala was present at a media conference that featured representatives from the Alliance for the Defence of Biodiversity in Guatemala and the National Network for the Defense of Food Sovereignty in Guatemala (REDSAG) responding to a Constitutional Court (CC) ruling on genetically modified organisms.
PBI-Guatemala posted this 17-minute video on their Facebook page and noted: “Press Conference against the ruling issued by the CC in favor of the Regulation of Modified Living Organisms (Transgenic).”
El Periodico reported: “Civil and peasant organizations rejected the decision of the Constitutional Court related to the technical regulation of biosecurity of living organisms modified for agricultural use promoted by the Ministry of Economy and Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.”
The organizations stated: “We reject that transnational corporations here in our country have come to take away our sovereignty. …The seeds are for us, the essence of life, not a commodity for commercial purposes.”
Prensa Libre has previously reported: “On October 1, 2019, the Central American Technical Regulation on biosecurity of living modified organisms (VMOs), also known as GMOs, came into force in Guatemala, allowing the import, marketing and planting of modified seeds of products for human and animal consumption in Guatemala.”
This struggle extends back to at least 2014.
At that time, Upside Down World reported: “On September 4th, after ten days of widespread street protests against the biotech giant Monsanto’s expansion into Guatemalan territory, groups of indigenous people joined by social movements, trade unions and farmer and women’s organizations won a victory when congress finally repealed the legislation that had been approved in June.”
“The Monsanto Law would have given exclusivity on patented seeds to a handful of transnational companies. Mayan people and social organizations claimed that the new law violated the Constitution and the Mayan people’s right to traditional cultivation of their land in their ancestral territories.”
“Academics, together with the Mayan people, also feared that the law would have intensified already existing fierce social conflicts between local Mayan communities and transnational companies in a country historically and violently torn apart.”
That article also quoted Lolita Chávez on what was at stake with the protests:
“Corn taught us Mayan people about community life and its diversity, because when one cultivates corn one realizes that there is a variety of crops such as herbs and medical plants depending on the corn plant as well. We see that in this coexistence the corn is not selfish, the corn shows us how to resist and how to relate with the surrounding world.”
Chávez is a leader of the Council of K’iche’ Peoples in Defense of Life, Mother Nature, Earth and Territory (CPK) that PBI-Guatemala began accompanying in September 2013, and a member of the TZ’KAT Network of Ancestral Healers of Community Feminism that PBI-Guatemala has accompanied since February 2018.